By Olasunkanmi Akoni & Godfrey Bivbere
Aluminium roofing sheets dealers have faulted the recent directive of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on standards of imported alumnium roofing sheet allowed for foreign exchange purchases.
The CBN had, on November 13, 2009, issued a circular to all authorised dealers, destination inspection service providers, the Nigeria Customs Service and the general public, to the effect that from November 16, 2009, the importation of aluminium roofing sheets of less than 0.50mm and cold roll steel of less than 0.20mm thickness into the country would not be allowed.
CBN, in the circular, signed by the acting Director, Trade and Exchange Department, Mr. Batari Musa, stated that the new measure became necessary to ensure that the end users in Nigerian get value for their money.
Only aluminium roofing sheets with the Nigerian specification, NIS488.2004 OF 0.5mm thickness and cold roll steel with thickness of 0.20mm would be allowed.
â€œTherefore, request for establishment of Form â€˜Mâ€™ for these items which do not meet the specification stated above should not be entertained by authorised dealers.
â€œHowever, transactions that had been initiated before the issuance of this circular shall be fully consummated on or before February 12, 2010.
â€œPlease ensure compliance, failing which relevant authorities will apply sanctions, including seizure of the items,â€ the circular stated.
But stakeholders, including members of the Association of Primary Aluminium Producers, Coil coaters and allÂ former operators of cold steel roll in Nigeria, faulted the directive, saying the standard contained in the circular isÂ different from what theyÂ agreed on with the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON).
Speaking on behalf of Concerned Industry Operators at a press conference on Tuesday, Vice-President of APAP, Chief Oluyinka Kufile, said that the standards whichÂ the stakeholders agreed on with SON was 0.4mm thickness for aluminium sheet with allowance for another 0.05mm for the coating and other chemical components.
Kufile, who is also the Chairman, Qualitec Aluminium Industries Limited, said that the Nigerian market would not support aluminium sheets of 0.50mm thickness, which would be more expensive than the 0.45mm and cause the market to contrast with hundreds of jobs likely to be affected.
Moreso, the 0.50mm standards would make the product an exclusive preserve of high income earners alone while taking the products out of the reach of low income earners.
He said that if implemented, the directive is also capable of affecting the production capacity of indigenous producers who will produce only on special request, while they will not be able to repay loans taken from banks or be able to expand their operations.
The directive could also causeÂ sales to fall by half orÂ 70 per cent.
â€œWe want the policy to be rescinded pending the time that the new standard being worked out with SON will be concluded.
â€œThis will protect the industry and the consumers from getting substandard products, and enhance the image of the nation.â€